Less than 24 hours after an extremely heated exchange with Republican Congressman Mark Meadows during former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib appeared on CNN’s New Day Thursday; where co-host Alisyn Camerota asked her if she regretted apologizing to Congressman Meadows for effectively smearing him as racist.
Tlaib discussed what transpired on Capitol Hill the previous day, where she criticized Meadows’s decision to bring in longtime Trump associate, Lynne Patton, as a character witness for President Trump to refute Cohen’s characterization of the President as a racist. Tlaib referred to the African-American Patton as a “prop,” arguing that the decision to bring her before the committee was a racist act.
Meadows took issue with Tlaib’s choice of words, objecting to her apparent characterization of him as a racist. Tlaib later tried to make it clear that she did not view Meadows as a racist. Co-host Aliysn Camerota argued that “there were people at home that felt that that was tone deaf and insensitive of Congressman Mark Meadows” before asking Tlaib, “Why did you feel the need to apologize to him?”
Tlaib didn’t really answer the question, instead choosing to speak about how important it was for her to “speak truth to power.” Tlaib also talked about how she wanted to “discuss race in this country in a way that can be really thoughtful and constructive, not in a way that’s very dramatic.” Accusing Meadows of bringing in Patton as a racist “prop” definitely comes across as quite dramatic.
Camerota once again asked Tlaib “do you regret apologizing to Congressman Meadows?” Tlaib responded by acknowledging that she “was not at all calling him a racist” and apologizing “if it made him feel like I was calling him a racist.” According to Tlaib, “if I wanted to (call him a racist)...I’m pretty direct. I would have done that.”
The CNN host once again tried to get Tlaib to trash Meadows. She played a clip of Meadows talking up the false birther conspiracy: “Does seeing that change how you feel about him?” Once again, Tlaib kind of dodged the question; electing to talk about the “people of color” in Congress dedicated to “teaching our colleagues… the right way of talking about race in this country.”
The interview concluded with Camerota asking Tlaib to clarify her position on Meadows one final time: “Just to be clear, you still, today, feel that he is not racist.” Tlaib responded by saying “I feel like the act was, and that’s up to the American people to decide whether or not he is.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of New Day is below. Click “expand” to read more.
New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman
ALISYN CAMEROTA: And so, Congresswoman, you were also at the center of this rather prolonged emotional exchange between you and Congressman Mark Meadows and Chairman Elijah Cummings after Mark Meadows had held up this woman who has worked for Donald Trump as what I believe you said was a prop…she didn’t speak. And you felt that it was a racist act. So let me just play this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color…a black person working for them does not mean they aren’t racist. And it is insensitive that some would even say…the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself. Donald Trump is setting a precedent…
REP. MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, I ask that her words be taken down.
TLAIB: Donald Trump is setting a precedent. I reclaim my time.
MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman…
TLAIB: Donald Trump is setting a precdent…
MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman…
TLAIB: …that the highest office can be attained…
MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, the rules are clear.
TLAIB: …with illegal activity, cover up and hold onto business assets to break campaign finance laws and constitutional clauses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So how do you feel about all that today? Do you still, today, believe that, that Congressman Mark Meadows engaged in a racist act?
TLAIB: I believe that that moment, as a person of color, and not only myself. Two, I think three other of my colleagues had mentioned how insensitive that act was. I think all of us, I mean, even folks at home kind of gasped when that actually happened. I think if we want to talk about race in this country, that was not the way to do it.
CAMEROTA: We are…I am being told that Lynne Patton, the woman who was held up by Mark Meadows without speaking then, has just spoken on a morning show. So let’s both listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNNE PATTON: …racist (audio gap) then being put up there as a “prop.” (audio gap)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: …sound, but she’s speaking out about it. And I also can tell you from her Instagram yesterday, she says…let me see where I want to get into this. “But rather than those on the House Oversight Committee who sadly placed more credence on the word of a self-confessed convicted perjurer than of a highly educated black woman who rose up the ranks of one of the most highly-recognized global real estate companies, spoke before 25 million people at the Republican National Convention, and now successfully oversees the largest HUD program in the country, this is not the resume of a prop.” What do you want to say to…
TLAIB: Well, I want her to know that it was no disrespect to her at all. I think she should be commended for her extreme leadership, for her work in, in the HUD organization, the administration. But I think for, for many of us, if we want to talk about race in this country, want to talk about some of the actions by this President, as a Muslim-American in this country, I know what he’s said about Muslims. I have seen what he’s said about Latinos and, and African Americans. But even in closed doors and what I think Mr. Cohen was trying to express to all of us, that was not the way I think my colleague should have been able to debate that issue; whether or not to even disagree with Mr. Cohen. I think there was a better way of doing that.
CAMEROTA: And so, back to that point yesterday, which is that as you point out, there were people at home that felt that that was tone deaf and insensitive of Congressman Mark Meadows. You certainly were not alone in that feeling. And so why did you feel the need to apologize to him?
TLAIB: You know, I just want folks to know this is probably the most diverse class. This is the largest incoming class since Watergate. And, yeah, we look differently. And many of us didn’t run to be first of anything, but I think we ran because we wanted Congress to not only look differently but also speak differently and feel differently. And, for me, again, as a person and a member of that committee, I did not feel that I should be silent about the fact that how that made me feel as an, as a equal member to Mr. Meadows and many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. At that moment, it was important for me to speak truth to power. It was important for me to speak out against that action that I thought was very hurtful and very painful for many of us sitting in that committee room.
CAMEROTA: And so, do you regret apologizing to Congressman Meadows?
TLAIB: Well, no. I apologized if it made him feel like I was calling him a racist. I was asked… I was, at that moment, you know, as a person, as a mother, this was a teachable moment. For me, I used that moment to say just FYI, that was not the way to do it. And it was not at all calling Mr. Meadows a racist. I really…if I wanted to, everybody knows this. I’m pretty direct, I would have done that. But I…that’s not what was my intention. It was my intention to, to educate, to share what I was feeling at that moment just like when he was feeling at that moment of what his reaction was to the comments from Mr. Cohen. I’m really, you know, wanted to focus to discuss race in this country in a way that can be really thoughtful and constructive, not in a way that’s very dramatic. And, and, and again, no disrespect to her, but just to having her stand there saying nothing and saying look, he’s not a racist. Again, I was still taken aback and still to this day, was like that was not the way to do it.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, I think this is a teachable moment and I think that we are all having these sensitive, you know, what used to be taboo conversations about race. And that’s why I’m, I’m interested in whether or not you can separate a racist statement or a racist act from the person. And, case in point, in 2012, you know, Congressman Mark Meadows engaged in the birtherism talk, where he doubted that President Obama was born here. Let me just remind our viewers of what he said back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEADOWS: Well, it’s good to be here with you today. I thank you so much for allowing me just a few minutes to talk with you to share a few things that …you know, it’s, it’s interesting when the more we find out, the more we realize how wrong the direction we’re going. And so what we’re going to do is take back our country. 2012 is the time that we’re going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is…we’re going to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Does seeing that change how you feel about him?
TLAIB: Look, I’m there because I think people of color have been really missing in, in Congress. There are so many incredible, incredible leadership. John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Barbara Lee, and so many people of color right now in Congress that are using this opportunity of being in that space and, and teaching our colleagues I think the right way of talking about race in this country. And so, just to go back, I think Congress, Congressman Meadows understood where I was coming from. He knew what my intention was at the end and that’s why he decided to take, you know, I think his objections back. And again, as somebody sitting in that room, I didn’t feel like it was something to be silent about. I think I needed to express my frustration and also the hurt that I think a lot of us felt at the moment that that action of having her stand up like that in a committee hearing.
CAMEROTA: But just to be clear, you still, today, feel that he is not racist.
TLAIB: Look, I feel like the act was, and that’s up to the American people to decide whether or not he is.